Fuel Your Next Long Run with Dates

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Every so often runners finds themselves in the midst of the latest craze in the health and wellness field. Whether it be how you change your stride with barefoot or minimalist shoe running to following a keto or Whole 30 food diet, how are you to know what works best? Well, first when we recognize that we are all individuals with different make-ups genetically and we each have bodies of varying structural distinctions, this will help to educate us that not one size fits all. One of the most effective ways to know what does actually work for each person is to test out the popular trends for him or herself. But instead of stressing about making major changes to your gait or dietary lifestyle right away which in turn could potentially lead to disastrous results, let’s start with a simple baby step. Have you ever considered using real foods to fuel your long runs? Yes? Well great, let’s talk about Medjool dates!

As we have emphasized before, all runners are different and this is especially true when it comes to the need and amount of fueling a person requires during a long run, but it should be stated that fueling is important. We will designate a long run as something being more or less greater than one hour. The fuel source itself should be mainly made up of digestible carbohydrates that contain little fat or fiber, as this will help to provide the quickest and most effective source of energy. High fats can slow digestion and no one wants an upset gastrointestinal system mid or post run.

Various research is out there but a general consensus states running or continuous sport that is greater than 1:15 to 3 hours duration requires 30-60 grams of carbohydrates and anything over 3 hours will require 60-90 grams of carbohydrates, while always keeping in mind that, of course, this varies from person to person.

Why the Medjool date?

Not only are they conveniently found in grocery stores and store well in the fridge at home, but runners will also appreciate Medjool dates as a pre-run, during the run, and post-run real food source of ideal nutrients. Just 2 Medjool dates can provide with you over 120 calories, 30+ grams of carbohydrates, and no hard to digest grams of fat or protein. In addition, Medjool dates are super sources of potassium, a mineral and electrolyte, by reaching a whopping 281 milligrams per serving. This is 50% more than that of the banana. The Medjool date seems to put the banana to shame in this category. For athletes, the controlled carbohydrate release restores glycogen lost in a prolonged activity, while the potassium helps to replace the electrolytes lost during sweat. Additionally, Medjool dates provide us with Vitamin A – good for vision, heart, and lungs, calcium – good for cardiovascular health, maintaining weight, and healthy bones, iron – helps transport oxygen to work muscles through red blood cells, and magnesium – reduces inflammation and enhances the body’s ability to recover. Medjool dates also contain B Vitamins including 1) niacin which assists converting sugars into energy and 2) B6 for muscle re-building which makes dates a great post recovery source for muscle repair and reduction of cramps. Not only are these nutritious dates energy packed with the proper nutrients and minerals our bodies need for energy and muscle recovery, but they also possess a strong source of phytonutrients and antioxidants which helps our immune systems to decrease inflammation while protecting us from diseases like cancer. And while we hear we should be staying away from sugar, these natural sugar sources are low on the glycemic index.  A truly perfect source of quick, healthy, sweet, and tasty energy bites!

 

There are many ways Medjool dates can be enjoyed. Of course, the easiest is eating them as is, without the pit, as they can easily be popped into the mouth especially pre-run. Although, the stickiness from the sugar-packed dates may be slightly annoying and less desired when considering to carry them on their own for long runs. An alternative is they can be easily mashed or food processed and placed into plastic baggies where you can just tear off a bit on the corner to easily squeeze into the mouth during activity. For post recovery, Medjool dates provides us with a multitude of options and recipes including making a batch of protein-energy balls, date rolls, date bread, date muffins, date squares, and even date cookies. You really can’t go wrong with this versatile, nutrient-packed, bite-sized, delicious treat!

So, if you have been debating whether a real food switch is something you should consider trying as a fuel source on your next long run, why not give the Medjool date a try. The benefits seem to be endless, of course as long as your stomach tolerates it. The sweet taste may just be the trick to help you achieve your finish line goals.

 

 

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